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MI5 criticised in final Manchester attack report

The final volume of three inquiries into the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing has concluded that security services missed a “significant” opportunity to take action that could have prevented the attack.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, today published the third of three reports about the bombing, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

In the 226-page report, Sir John detailed his findings and recommendations on radicalisation and preventability, including looking at whether MI5 and counter-terror police could have stopped the bomber Salman Abedi carrying out the attack.

He said the reasons for the significant missed opportunity included a failure by a security service officer to act swiftly enough.

“I have found a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack,” he says. “It is not possible to reach any conclusion on the balance of probabilities or to any other evidential standard, as to whether the attack would have been prevented.

“However, there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained which might have led to action preventing the attack. The reason for this missed opportunity included a failure by the security service, in my view, to act swiftly enough.”

“Gathering covert intelligence is difficult – but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma”

The inquiry also identified problems with the sharing of information between the security service and counter terrorism policing, although “none of these problems is likely to have had any causative significance”.

In response to the report, MI5 director general Ken McCallum says he is “profoundly sorry” the intelligence service did not prevent the attack.

“The terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena was a terrible tragedy,” says McCallum. “The bomber killed 22 innocent people and harmed many others. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed, and with all those whose lives were changed by this appalling act of terrorism.

“Having examined all the evidence, the chair of the inquiry has found that ‘there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained which might have led to actions preventing the attack.’ I deeply regret that such intelligence was not obtained. Gathering covert intelligence is difficult – but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma. I am profoundly sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack.”

“Since the terrible events of 2017 we have made more than 100 improvements. But we are determined to do more”

He continues: “The people of MI5 and our policing partners come to work every day to stop terrorism. We continually work to improve the counter-terrorism system; since the terrible events of 2017 we have made more than 100 improvements. But we are determined to do more. As the chair now considers his recommendations, we will engage fully.

“Where there are opportunities to strengthen the UK’s defences further, MI5 will act. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our country safe from hidden threats. MI5 exists to stop atrocities. To all those whose lives were forever changed on that awful night: I am so sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack at the Manchester Arena.”

The second inquiry into the attack, published in November 2022, made a series of recommendations for events after identifying numerous failings by the emergency services.

The inquiry heard that firefighters did not arrive at the venue until two hours after the explosion, only one paramedic entered the scene in the first 40 minutes. Greater Manchester Police did not declare a major incident for more than two hours.

It concluded that injuries suffered by one of the victims – 28-year-old John Atkinson – were survivable but for “inadequacies” in the emergency response, and found that the venue’s then event healthcare provider Emergency Training UK (ETUK) “had not adequately prepared to deal with a major incident response”.

Among Sir John’s 149 recommendations within the report were that “a standard should be set for the level of event healthcare services that are required for any particular event”.

The latest findings also follow the first report, published in June 2021, which found there were multiple “missed opportunities” to prevent or minimise the impact of the bombing.

The report, which looked into security arrangements at the arena on the night of the bombing, concluded that the bomber should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack.

 


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AO Arena to show World Cup clash ahead of concert

Manchester’s AO Arena is to screen England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with France live prior to Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott’s concert at the venue tomorrow evening (10 December).

Support act Billy Bragg has agreed to perform earlier than planned at 6.15pm GMT to enable the match to be shown on the 21,000-cap arena’s big screens from 7pm. Heaton & Abbott will then take to the stage for their headline set at 9pm.

“Following some lengthy thought and discussion, we have decided that we will now be showing the England v France match on the screens at AO Arena Manchester,” says a statement on the venue’s website.

“We are mindful that there will be people that won’t be keen on watching the match (we did, unsuccessfully, look at alternative entertainment within the arena itself) and also worried about transport home, but we assure you that Paul & Jacqui will still take to the stage by 9pm, meaning the show will finish around 10:40/45pm.

“With the right result this could be a great night!”

“This does mean we won’t be showing any extra time if that occurs, but if it does Paul and Jacqui will be very keen to keep you updated from the stage. With the right result this could be a great night!”

London’s The O2 previously streamed England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat against Croatia before a Justin Timberlake concert, while BST Hyde Park showed the game to 30,000 attendees on the Great Oak Stage, preceded by a performance by the Lightning Seeds.

Heaton, a renowned football supporter, and Abbott have capped tickets for their current UK arena tour at just £30 in a bid to help fans weather the cost of living crisis.

“I’m against greed in the industry,” Heaton told BBC Breakfast. “It’s incredibly important that through the coming months and possibly years, that we tell the fans that we’re getting paid enough and we want to keep it low for you.”

 


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Manchester attack report slams emergency response

An inquiry into the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack has made a series of recommendations for events after identifying numerous failings by the emergency services.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, yesterday (3 November) published the second of three reports about the bombing, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

The inquiry heard that firefighters did not arrive at the venue until two hours after the explosion, only one paramedic entered the scene in the first 40 minutes. Greater Manchester Police did not declare a major incident for more than two hours.

It concluded that injuries suffered by one of the victims – 28-year-old John Atkinson – were survivable but for “inadequacies” in the emergency response, and found that the venue’s then event healthcare provider Emergency Training UK (ETUK) “had not adequately prepared to deal with a major incident response”.

“There were not enough staff with necessary clinical qualifications, skills and experience on duty”

“There were not enough staff with necessary clinical qualifications, skills and experience on duty,” it states. “Some staff were not sufficiently qualified to provide healthcare at events… Overall, ETUK’s provision of a healthcare service on the night of the attack was inadequate.”

ETUK’s director, Ian Parry, had failed to refresh his expired qualifications on major incident management and advanced life support, while ETUK staff members provided their own first aid equipment because equipment provided by ETUK was insufficient.

Manchester Arena operator SMG was criticised for taking an “unacceptable approach to ensuring that there were adequate healthcare services at the arena”. “SMG failed to carry out basic checks that would have revealed major deficiencies in ETUK’s approach,” it says.

In his 716-page report, Sir John recommends that SMG should review its processes to ensure that it shares its most current emergency response plans and policies for dealing with an incident at the arena with the emergency services, and to review its approach to the provision of healthcare services and equipment at the venue.

Members of Showsec staff, including those who had been injured, “did their best to help those affected by the explosion”

In a statement, SMG, which is now part of ASM Global, says the company has been “committed to helping the inquiry throughout”, adding that it welcomes “any recommendations from the chair which will give clearer guidance to events medical services providers and organisers, as well as improve industry standards even further”.

Members of Showsec staff, including those who had been injured, “did their best to help those affected by the explosion”, notes the report. SMG event technicians and other employees also did the same.

Among Sir John’s 149 recommendations within the report are that “a standard should be set for the level of event healthcare services that are required for any particular event”.

“I recommend that DHSC [Department of Health and Social Care] consider what that standard should be,” he adds. “I do not consider that it is a standard that should be contained only within guidance. Serious consideration should be given to putting it on a statutory footing. The consequences of failing to meet the standard could be fatal.”

“It is vital that establishments of a similar size to the arena have a reasonable number of adequately trained and equipped medical staff on hand to give emergency care”

He continues: “There will always be a time lag between the emergency having happened and the arrival of the emergency services that are able to assist the casualties. That is a critical time when lives can be lost if no action is taken to save casualties. This makes it essential that as much help as possible can be provided on site by people who are in the vicinity and prepared to help. This means that it is vital that establishments of a similar size to the arena have a reasonable number of adequately trained and equipped medical staff on hand to give emergency care, to bridge the gap before the ambulance service and the fire and rescue service can arrive.

“Standards need to be laid down and enforced to ensure that this happens. There needs to be liaison between site operators and event healthcare staff and the ambulance service to co-ordinate their responses to an emergency.”

Other recommendations made in the report include all event healthcare staff being trained in, and having immediate access to, tourniquets; as well as compulsory training in major incident response. DHSC was urged to review the provision of Public Access Trauma kits “in all locations where they are most likely to be needed”, while the Department for Education was asked to consider a national scheme to teach pupils how to deal with catastrophic injuries.

The findings follow the first report, published in June 2021, which found there were multiple “missed opportunities” to prevent or minimise the impact of the bombing.

The report, which looked into security arrangements at the arena on the night of the bombing, concludes that bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack.

Sir John found a number of security failures that he says would have reduced the impact of the bombing, if not prevented it completely. The “most striking missed opportunity”, the report details, came from a member of the public, who raised concerns to stewards about Abedi’s suspicious behaviour in the run-up to the attack.

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Stephen Watson yesterday apologised for the “substantially inadequate” response to the bombing.

 


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Manchester’s AO Arena to undergo £50m revamp

ASM Global has announced a £50 million plan to transform Manchester’s AO Arena.

The three-year phased development, which will begin this summer, will dramatically enhance the 21,000-cap venue, expanding its infrastructure while adding innovative guest features. Further details will be released in the coming months.

The 27-year-old arena has a string of sell-out concerts lined up for 2022, including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Snoop Dogg and George Ezra.

“The first phase will enhance and increase our standing floor capacity”

“AO Arena is one of the world’s iconic venues and a much-loved part of Manchester’s rich culture and history,” says Chris Bray, EVP Europe at ASM Global. “It has been delivering world class entertainment experiences for over two decades. As we approach our 30th anniversary, this ambitious endeavour will not only reinforce its position as a leading destination for live entertainment but will extend its market leadership for ‘live’ and fan experiences for the next 30 years, and we’re proud to be further investing into the heart of Manchester.

“The first phase will enhance and increase our standing floor capacity to share this historic arena with even more of our guests and we will also be adding new hospitality lounges and investing in delivering an upgraded concourse experience. Our performers will be immersed in an all-new back of house artists campus, unparalleled anywhere.”

Additional major developments will include brand-new arena entrances, specially tailored premium experiences, custom designed lounges, and new premium seating.

“This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue”

AO Arena’s back of house will also be upgraded with a complete overhaul of the backstage experience, including new artist dressing rooms and production areas, a “world-class” green room with meet and greet facilities, an overhaul of crew catering, and first-class connectivity and technology.

“This is a really exciting time for the AO Arena,” adds recently appointed general manager Jen Mitchell. “Not only are we able to welcome guests back after a challenging two years, with a programme packed full of world-class acts and entertainment; now we can reveal the first phase of ASM Global’s plans for the arena’s redevelopment. This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue, including artists, production, crew and our staff who work so hard to make the magic happen right here in Manchester.”

AO Arena is set to face competition in the city from Oak View Group’s new east Manchester development Co-op Live, which is scheduled to open in 2023.

 


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Manchester Arena attack: Inquiry publishes first report

There were multiple “missed opportunities” to prevent or minimise the impact of the Manchester Arena bombing May 2017, the public investigation into the attack has found.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, today (17 June) published the first of three reports about the terror attack, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017. The report, which looks into security arrangements at the arena on the night of the bombing, concludes that bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack.

In his 204-page report, Sir John found a number of security failures that he says would have reduced the impact of the bombing, if not prevented it completely. The “most striking missed opportunity”, the report details, came from a member of the public, who raised concerns to stewards about Abedi’s suspicious behaviour in the run-up to the attack.

Although the stewards, Mohammed Agha and Kyle Lawler, took steps to investigate the man’s concerns, with Lawler stating that he thought “there was something wrong” with Abedi’s behaviour and trying to get through to a superior on the radio, his efforts were ‘inadequate’, says Sir John.

While approach by a steward or BTP officer may have caused Abedi to detonate his device, “it is likely that fewer people would have been killed” than were on 22 May, says Sir John. (Abedi ultimately set off his bomb as fans were leaving the show.)

Other failings identified by the inquiry include the lack of British Transport Police (BTP) officers in the arena’s foyer, for which there was “no satisfactory explanation”; a CCTV blind spot near the arena’s City room that allowed Abedi to hide from security cameras; and inadequate counter-terrorism training given the stewards.

Sir John additionally found that after the Paris attack of November 2017, the arena’s operator, SMG, should have “sought to push the security perimeter out, beyond the City room” to make “hostile reconnaissance” of the arena (now called AO Arena) more difficult for Abedi.

“We are carefully reviewing the findings outlined in volume one of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report”

Among Sir John’s recommendations are passing ‘protect duty’ legislation (sometimes called ‘Martyn’s law’, after one of the victims) for large venues such as arenas which would require them to consider terrorist threats and implement further protective security and preparations.

The public inquiry was set up in September 2020 to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the bombing, and followed an earlier review headed by Lord Kerslake whose findings were published in March 2018. Though part one of Manchester Arena Inquiry says it holds BTP, SMG and security provider Showsec, “principally responsible for the missed opportunities”, the Kerslake report found that SMG and Showsec’s response to the attack went “above and beyond” the call of duty.

In a statement, SMG (now part of ASM Global), says that while security around live shows, and at Manchester Arena particularly, has “changed dramatically” since the 2017 attack, the company will take on board Sir John’s recommendations after having reviewed the full report in detail.

The statement reads: “On 22 May 2017, 22 innocent people tragically lost their lives and many others were injured when a terrorist detonated a bomb. The attack shocked the nation and the devastating impact was felt far beyond the city of Manchester.

“The impact was also felt across the industry and the environment in which we all operated changed dramatically that evening.

“Since the inquiry began, questions have been asked of SMG and others about the security operations in place that evening. Throughout, we’ve been committed to working with the inquiry to help the families of victims and survivors better understand the events of that evening, as well as look at the lessons learnt.

”During the inquiry process, the experts stated that they did not see evidence that the security operation in place at Manchester Arena was out of step with the operations being used at other comparable venues. In fact, the standards that we adopted were in line with published industry guidance at the time. However, this doesn’t give us any comfort. Our guests came to the arena to enjoy a show but were met with a horrific tragedy. For that we are truly sorry.

”All of us at Manchester Arena have learnt a lot since the events of that night and our security measures continue to evolve to reflect the threats we face today. Since the attack, we have further extended the security perimeter, adopted a more intensive approach to checking and searching including the use of walk through metal detectors and installed a new CCTV and access control system.

”All of us at Manchester Arena have learnt a lot since the events of that night”

“However, out of respect for those who tragically lost their lives on 22 May 2017, and those whose lives changed forever, we can never be satisfied that we have done enough. To that end, we will be reviewing the report findings in detail and the recommendations that have been put forward. Any additional actions we should take, we will take as we continuously challenge ourselves to be better.

“Finally, we share the chair’s admiration for those who responded so selflessly and heroically to this atrocity.”

“The chairman, Sir John Saunders, and the inquiry legal team have put an enormous amount of work and effort into this important public inquiry,” reads a statement from Showsec. “Showsec has learnt lessons from the terrible events of 22 May 2017 and, as the chairman has acknowledged, Showsec improvements are already in place.

“Having been provided with the first volume of the report, Showsec will take some time to consider both Sir John’s criticisms and his recommendations before responding as he has requested. As always, the families are at the forefront of our minds.”

Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of the BTP, comments: “We are carefully reviewing the findings outlined in volume one of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report today.

“I would like to reassure everyone that British Transport Police, as you would expect, has been reviewing procedures, operational planning and training since this dreadful attack took place in 2017. We continue to work closely with our emergency service colleagues, Greater Manchester Police and other experts to strengthen our multi-agency preparedness for major incidents. We are committed to ensuring our staff are supported and prepared to undertake the roles they are required to do.

“We will never forget that 22 people tragically lost their lives following the truly evil actions of the attacker and many received life changing injuries . They continue to be at the forefront of our thoughts as are their loved ones and all those affected by this dreadful attack.”

 


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OVG given green light for new Manchester arena

Oak View Group (OVG) has been given the go-ahead to build a new 23,500-capacity arena on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, in east Manchester.

The new arena will be the UK’s largest venue and will rival the ASM Global-operated AO Arena (cap. 21,000), located in Manchester city centre.

Proposals for the new venue, which will bring £350 million in private investment to the city, were submitted in March following consultation with the local community and have now been approved by Manchester City Council.

Tim Leiweke, OVG’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that Manchester City Council has given our proposals the go-ahead, and we can’t wait to get started, bringing a £350million private investment, creating thousands of jobs, and delivering one of the world’s best arenas to this amazing city.”

“I want to say a huge thank you to the community for taking the time to listen to what we had to say and providing feedback that ensured this arena is of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester.”

Councillor Pat Karney, city centre spokesperson, said: “Today’s decision is about confidence in our city, Greater Manchester and the North West. It is about new employment and training opportunities for thousands across East Manchester and beyond at a time when they are badly needed.

“Today’s decision is about new employment and training opportunities at a time when they are badly needed”

“The city centre, our communities and the wider city will be strengthened by our newest neighbour – Oak View Group Manchester. This is the next chapter in East Manchester’s regeneration.”

In June, ASM Global submitted a formal objection to the plans, alleging again that a second large entertainment venue in the city is unsustainable and would have a negative affect on Manchester’s economy.

ASM released a statement regarding today’s decision, saying it is “wholly disappointed”.

“This decision will have a significantly adverse impact for our existing arena, and the wider city centre businesses and attractions it supports,” the statement reads.

“Clear evidence has been presented on multiple occasions that demonstrates the application for an Eastlands Arena relies on flawed research, impossible market projections, is in defiance of national and local policy, and does not align with the adopted Core Strategy to support sustainable growth in the city.”

Construction is expected to commence in November, bringing 3,350 jobs during a three-year construction phase. The arena will create a further 1,000 jobs when the arena opens, which is projected to happen in 2023.

 


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Manchester Arena renamed the AO Arena

Manchester Arena (cap. 21,000) has been renamed the AO Arena, after announcing a five-year sponsorship deal with the Bolton-based online electricals retailer.

The announcement comes as operators ASM Global submit a planning application for the arena’s redevelopment which will aim to improve visitor experience, transport access and sustainability.

James Allen, general manager of the AO Arena commented on the news: “We are thrilled to have secured this partnership and we look forward to a dynamic relationship with this exciting brand.

“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue”

“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue in the heart of Manchester. And after such a long period of pause, we look forward to being able to press play and welcome fans back to the AO Arena.”

AO founder and CEO, John Roberts commented on the announcement; “The Arena holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in Manchester so we’re hugely proud to add the AO smile, especially after such an emotional and difficult period. Our home is firmly in the North West, something we’ve never forgotten while building the business into a global destination for electricals.”

The newly rebranded arena was revealed yesterday (2 September), marking the arena’s first naming rights sponsor since 2014.

 


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Manchester Arena celebrates 25th year with virtual show

A virtual charity concert will be aired later this month to mark the 25th anniversary of the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in the UK.

Taking place on Friday 17 July from 8 p.m., the pre-recorded event will feature Lionel Richie, Alice Cooper, Tim Burgess, Emeli Sandé and the Hoosiers, and will be broadcast across the arena’s social media channels to celebrate reaching the quarter-century milestone.

The event, which is organised in conjunction with Future Agency, will also raise money for local organisations including homeless shelter the Booth Centre, cancer treatment specialist the Christie and community-focused charity Forever Manchester, as well as music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins.

“Our 25th anniversary celebrations were set to be very special indeed”

Each charity will receive 25% of the money raised. Donations can be made here.

“Our 25th anniversary celebrations were set to be very special indeed,” says James Allen general manager of the ASM Global-operated arena.

“However during this period of pause, we have adapted the format to ensure that we can deliver an evening of top quality entertainment to your home, so everyone can enjoy the celebrations without leaving the house.”

Since opening in 1995, Manchester Arena has hosted acts including Beyonce, Chris Rock, U2, Kylie Minogue, Take That, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and The Rolling Stones.

 


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OVG hits back as ASM formally objects to new MCR arena

ASM Global, operator of the UK’s Manchester Arena, has submitted a formal objection to plans for a new 23,500-capacity arena in Manchester, alleging again that a second large entertainment venue in the city is unsustainable and would have a negative affect on Manchester’s economy.

The objection by ASM (formerly SMG Europe) follows the filing of a planning application by Oak View Group (OVG), the company behind the £350 million project, which was officially unveiled earlier this year following a six-month feasibility study by OVG.

If approved, the new venue – located on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, in east Manchester – would be, by some way, the largest indoor arena in the UK, and go head to head with the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena in Manchester city centre. The planning application also includes plans for a 180,000+ sqft food and beverage/retail space.

Citing independent analysis by consulting firm Charles River Associates, ASM claims to have uncovered “significant flaws in the evidence supporting the planning application” that raises “legitimate concerns” about the impact the new venue would have on Manchester Arena and other city-centre businesses.

Among other points, ASM – which is supported by several other city-centre businesses, including the Arndale shopping centre and venue owner Living Ventures – says OVG’s market projections are over-optimistic and at odds with historical data; that public-transport infrastructure would be unable to cope with increased football; and that Manchester, despite being a one-arena city, is already well-served by major live entertainment venues.

“A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester”

A new mini-site, together.manchester-arena.com, serves as a hub for Manchester Arena/ASM Global’s objections to the new arena.

“We have clear reasons for opposing a new arena in Eastlands, and have never shied away from making our voice heard. We firmly believe that this planning application presents a very real threat to not only our venue and transformative redevelopment plans, but to our neighbouring hotels, bars, restaurants and stores, at what is an already fragile time,” reads a statement from ASM, which also commissioned a separate study that concludes a second arena would “shatter” Manchester city centre’s economy.

“Independent analysis clearly demonstrates there is no demand for a second major venue in Manchester. To introduce another would risk running the other out of business, taking with it the visitors and spend it positively contributes to surrounding businesses. Analysis from leading consultants demonstrates the astounding nature of the market projections included within the planning application – projections which rely on cherrypicked data and ignore historical growth.

“We ask that this application receives proper scrutiny, and takes into consideration the concerns of local people and business, especially given the risks it poses to Manchester’s culture, economy and environment.”

Oak View Group, unsurprisingly, disputes allegations of cherrypicking data, and is also wielding economic analysis of its own, in the form of an economic impact assessment by PWC and Ekosgen which concludes the new arena would contribute up to £1.5 billion of new economic activity over the 20 years from opening (planned for 2023) – and that city-centre businesses would benefit from an estimated 85% of all new arena-related spending.

“There is no demand for a second major venue in Manchester”

Mark Donnelly, COO of OVG International, says Manchester, a European live music capital, is failing to capitalise on its musical heritage, and that a new arena would grow the local market, as has happened in other large cities.

“Manchester is a city with a proud music and sporting history and a huge appetite for live entertainment, but it’s currently losing market share in the national live entertainment industry,” he comments. “A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester and attract a wider range of larger and more impressive live events to the city.

“Manchester has developed a thriving tourism and entertainment market, and we are completely confident that a new venue at Eastlands would happily co-exist with the current arena, as well as other venues in the city centre and across the region. Economic analysis submitted as part of our application shows that a new arena would bring an additional £36m per year in direct annual local spending and at least £1.3bn of additional economic activity from two arenas over 20 years. City-centre business would account for 85% of visitor expenditure from two arenas, significantly increasing jobs and economic activity compared to the current position.

“We look forward to reviewing the existing arena’s full analysis, as the little released so far seems to paint a negative view of the market, and the city’s position within it, which we and expert industry analysts simply do not recognise. The live entertainment industry is supportive of our proposals, as they foresee ongoing growth in the market post-Covid, with a great opportunity for Manchester to play a leading role in that.”

Andrew Coles, director of real assets at Aviva Investors, which describes itself as “one of the largest investors in Manchester’s built environment”, is supportive of the ASM-led objection, saying further economic assessment is needed before proceeding.

“We are so confident in Manchester’s potential that we are willing to commit £350m investment to the city”

Because of coronavirus, he says, “the situation in the city centre and its businesses is vastly different to what it was at the start of this year”, he says. “‘The basis of the Eastlands arena application was written before the full scale of the economic impact on Manchester was understood. We would urge the relevant authorities to carefully consider how to ensure the vitality and viability of the city centre, which reflects the economic reality on the ground.

“As such, we believe a full retail and leisure impact assessment of a scheme of this size is needed.”

Donnelly, however, says the new arena is just what the city needs to get back on its feet, creating in excess of 3,000 jobs during construction – which could begin later this year, pending approval of the planning application – alone.

“Other major UK cities are thriving with two or more arenas, and we are so confident in Manchester’s potential that we are willing to commit £350 million entirely privately funded investment to the city, creating 3,350 jobs during the construction phase and a further 1,000 once open in 2023,” he concludes.

“We want to partner with businesses and the wider community in Manchester and, following a successful planning process, OVG could be onsite as early as October, beginning to create new construction jobs straight away – vital to help the region recover economically from the current crisis.”

 


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United We Stream marks anniversary of Manchester Arena attack

The Manchester edition of United We Stream, a fundraising initiative launched in cities worldwide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, is putting on a special four-hour show to mark the third anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing.

The show begins at 8 p.m. tonight (22 May), marking three years to the day of the bomb attack that killed 22 people outside the 21,000-capacity arena following an Ariana Grande concert.

The commemorative show, which is organised by Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord, will see Spice girl Melanie C perform a DJ set, promising “some uplifting pop bangers” and “a few cheeky classics from the north west [of England]”. The show will be available to watch on the United We Stream platform.

The Manchester Survivors Choir, made up of almost 100 people who were at the arena on the night of the attack, will also perform as part of the event, joined by former Coronation Street actress Catherine Tydesley.

Thanks to the efforts of United We Stream production team, led by director Colin McKevitt, the choir is able to perform together outdoors at Manchester’s Media City, while adhering to social distancing and infection control guidelines.

“At a time when we are living through another period when we need the city region to come together, we felt it right to pay tribute”

“I know how difficult this week is, not just for the families of the 22 lives that were lost, but also for the many families, NHS, police, paramedics, firefighters, first responders and people who pulled together on the evening of one of Greater Manchester’s worst days,” says Lord.

“I also understand the importance of coming together on this date, remembering those lives and paying tribute to those who risked their lives. At a time when we are living through another period when we need the city region to come together, we felt it right to pay tribute, but also allow residents of the city-region to dance their way through it, safely in their homes.”

Set up by Lord and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, United We Stream has raised £320,000 for the city’s night-time economy, cultural organisations and chosen local charities.

United We Stream Greater Manchester is live every weekend. Viewers can watch for free and are encouraged to buy a ‘virtual ticket’ for any price they choose. Originally established by Berlin night Tsar Lutz Leichsenring, United We Stream has now launched in Belgrade, Detroit, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Cologne.

It is normal to experience strong emotional reactions and thoughts ahead of the three year anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack this Friday. If you’re struggling during this time, please remember that help and support is available.

Please contact the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub:
Phone: 0333 009 5071
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://penninecare.nhs.uk/mcrhub
The hub is open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

 


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